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The U.S. federal government is investigating reports that Libyan General Khalifa Haftar had traveled to Venezuela to discuss oil contracts, Reuters has reported, citing a government official.
An earlier report by the Wall Street Journal said that the U.S. was not the only country investigating these reports, adding that Haftar had reached out to Venezuela, as well as to brokers in the United Arab Emirates in a bid to raise money for his Libyan National Army through deals for the sale of crude oil.
Libyan, European, and U.S. officials told WSJ at the time that the reports had prompted the UN and the UN-recognized Libyan government to launch an investigation into a Dubai-based ship-chartering company for its alleged help to Haftar to sell Libyan crude in the Mediterranean.
Libya’s National Oil Corporation is the only entity legally allowed to market Libyan crude, as per UN sanctions leveled on Libya during the civil war. Until last year, Haftar’s Libyan National Army was friendly towards the NOC, after the LNA wrestled control of the country’s oil export terminals from the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which had blockaded them to use as bargaining chop against the UN-recognized government.
And then the LNA made a grab for Tripoli, in the course of which groups affiliated with it blockaded the oil ports and prompted the suspension of oil production, bringing Libya’s total from over 1 million bpd to under 100,000 bpd. NOC has estimated the losses at more than $5 billion.
And yet there seems to be enough oil to sell, judging by these reports.
"The Haftar probes are part of a wider international campaign aimed at halting the militia leader's oil sales, which he is hoping to turn into a key source of funding for his 14-month insurgent assault on Libya's capital city of Tripoli," the WSJ wrote.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.